Ketosis in Milk Cows – Be Aware of the Dangers & Warning Signs

Ketosis in Milk Cows – Be Aware of the Dangers & Warning Signs

Ketosis in Milk Cows – Be Aware of the Dangers & Warning Signs

It’s Spring!  Time for rain, flowers, calves, and Ketosis in Cows.

Why does Ketosis happen in spring?

It doesn’t.  Ketosis can happen any time of year.  It is much more likely to happen after a cow calves (which is sometimes in spring).  Ketosis can also happen when there is a big change in diet (like all that new grass that shows up in Spring).Ketosis is commonly caused by a metabolic change.  Either what is going out has changed (like making milk) or what is going in has changed (like new Spring grass).

When a cow first begins to produce milk (early lactation) there is an increase in energy requirements on her body to make milk.  If she can’t make or doesn’t have enough glucose she can end up in Ketosis.  The most common time to find a cow in ketosis is the first 8 weeks after calving.We have had a cow go into Ketosis 4 months after she calved instead of the normal first 8 weeks.  Our particular case was caused by what was going in (her diet).

Signs Your Cow Could be in Ketosis

  • Losing Weight (this was not a sign for us)
  • Just had a calf (in the past 8 weeks)
  • New Lush pasture or other dietary change
  • Drop in Milk production (this was also not a sign for us)
  • Poor appetite
  • Wobbling, shaking, stumbling
  • Acting weird, wandering around
  • Milk smells like acid
  • Breath smells like acid
  • Milk has a blueish/ lavender tint
  • Cream won’t “come” into butter

Call Your Vet

Be sure to contact your vet if you suspect you cow is sick.  A simple urine or milk test can detect ketones.  From there the vet can prescribe the correct treatment.

In our case, the treatment was not complicated.  Our cow simply needed to increase her blood glucose levels.  Our vet did this with some drenching tubes and we increased the amount of grain and dry hay in her diet.  Our cow responded positively and quickly.
2 - faith udder

Why Did My Cow go Into Ketosis?

There are several reasons your cow could end up in Ketosis.  Most of them start with some other illness or a lack of dietary needs.

  1.  Inadequate feed supply after calving (especially the first 8 weeks)
  2. Lack of appetite due to another illness (mastitis or other condition)
  3. Change to a feed.  It could be a new lush pasture or changing from a super-yummy hay to another one that is not as “yummy” to the cow.   This can cause the cows to decrease the amount they are eating.
  4. Stomach displacement (don’t ask me – definitely call your vet)  Source Source

2 Responses

  1. Jabe Thomas
    February 24, 2017
    • Candi
      February 25, 2017

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